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Obama's "Finish the Job" Talk Sets Stage for Afghan Troop Surge
President Obama plans to formally announce on December 1 his decision with regard to the request from some of his more ambitious generals for a massive troop surge in Afghanistan.
But indications are that the president who was elected to set a new course for the nation when it comes to foreign policy will instead "stay the course" set by his quagmire-prone predecessor.
At a time when Mr. Obama is vowing to reduce sky-high deficits, he must make the case that the price tag — roughly $1 million per soldier — is justified.
So it is no surprise that one of Mr. Obama’s senior aides, speaking on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged Tuesday that the forthcoming speech was a “potential minefield.”
...the Dutch and the Canadians are both scheduled to be pulling their troops out of Afghanistan just as Mr. Obama is putting more forces in. In quiet meetings over the past month, American defense and national security officials have been trying to forestall those departures, while obtaining commitments of increasing numbers of troops from NATO allies.
So far, the administration has been successful only with the British, who have pledged an additional 500 troops. Germany, Italy and other NATO contributors have been silent, explaining to their American visitors that the war has become so unpopular at home that they can barely sustain the troop levels now in place.
"We are in year nine" in Afghanistan, Gibbs told reporters. "We're not going to be there another eight or nine years."
Obey is offering what could well be the most effective congressional challenge to Obama's plan. The appropriations committee chair argues that the expanded mission is simply unaffordable.
Surging more troops into Afghanistan will "wipe out every initiative we have to rebuild our own economy," says Obey, who explains that if Obama goes for an expanded war: "There ain't going to be no money for nothing if we pour it all into Afghanistan.
...anti-war activists stepped up their activism on behalf of congressional measures that would limit the scope of the war and begin a process of bringing the troops home.
In particular, they focused on a bill introduced by California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, HR 3699, which would prohibit the use of taxpayer funds for more combat troops to Afghanistan, and another introduced by Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern, HR 2404, which calls for the development of a clear exit strategy.
Tom Hayden, the former California legislator and anti-Vietnam War activist who has positioned himself as prime mover in the movement to prevent an escalation of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, says the Lee and McGovern bills "provide space for the peace movement to organize in local communities across the country during the next six months."
Lee's amendment has 23 cosponsors, McGovern's has 100 --including several Republicans.
But for years, throughout the Bush administration and into the Obama administration, American officials have been making trips to Pakistan to reassure its government that the United States has no intention of pulling out of Afghanistan as it did 20 years ago, after the Soviets retreated from the country.
Obama indicated on Tuesday that he plans to expend a good deal of political capital to promote what is effectively becoming his war. "I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we're doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive," he said.
David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and other leading Democratic congressmen who have proposed a graduated war surtax beginning in 2011 to pay for U.S. military efforts going forward. The amount of tax collected would have to be sufficient to cover the full war costs of the previous year.
"Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for," Obey said in a statement. "The only people who've paid any price for our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are our military families."
Obey believes that: if the cost of the Afghan war isn't paid for it will "wipe out every other initiative that we have to try to rebuild our own economy."
Dear President Obama,
Do you really want to be the new "war president"? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they've always heard is true -- that all politicians are alike. I simply can't believe you're about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn't so.
It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That's the way General Washington insisted it must be. That's what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. "You're fired!," said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in' hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).
So now you feel backed into a corner. 30 years ago this past Thursday (Thanksgiving) the Soviet generals had a cool idea -- "Let's invade Afghanistan!" Well, that turned out to be the final nail in the USSR coffin.
There's a reason they don't call Afghanistan the "Garden State" (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan's nickname is the "Graveyard of Empires." If you don't believe it, give the British a call. I'd have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev's number though. It's + 41 22 789 1662. I'm sure he could give you an earful about the historic blunder you're about to commit.
Originally posted by loam
President Obama will deliver from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point a speech, scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. EST and last about 30 minutes, announcing his intended policy for Afghanistan.
The buzz surrounding this speech is already at a fevered pitch... ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, CNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel and MSNBC have all announced their intention to carry the speech live.